Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mama Gets Her New Dress

Long time no blogging. But there has been sewing. Vogue 8178 is done:

As mentioned in my previous post, I cut a 16 from the waist up, and an 18 from the waist down. The muslin fit just right, but the finished dress turned out rather loose. I can only assume that my fabric, a mid-weight denim with a lot of crosswise stretch, either relaxed or grew during construction. I'm hoping that once the dress goes through the washer and dryer, it will draw up a little bit. It's fine the way it is, and definitely comfy, but I wanted a more fitted dress.

Anyway. I LOVE this pattern! It's labeled "Very Easy Vogue" and it is. It's also very stylish and work appropriate. I love this high waisted style and I am very happy with the way it turned out. I also love the wide lapels. The V-neck and the wide collar really frame the face and bring attention right where I want it. I also like that you can control the depth of the V by where you turn the collar back. Even with the collar open all the way, though, I felt perfectly modest and covered up.

I mentioned in my previous post that I chose not to do a FBA. The stretch in the fabric more than compensated for it. What I did do, though, was trim a tiny bit of length off of the back. I noticed on the muslin that, even though I liked where the under bust seam hit me, when I turned to the side, the front seam was higher than the back. I did not want to lengthen the front because I was afraid of messing up the proportion of the lapels, so I decided to even out the seam by shaving 1/4" off of the bottom of the back pieces tapering to nothing at the side seams. Sort of like the opposite of a FBA. It seems to have worked just fine.

I also added 1" of length through the waist to compensate for my long body, and 2" of length below the hips as extra insurance that the dress would hit me at the right spot with plenty left to turn up for the hem. I probably could have gotten away with only 1" to 1.5".

The sleeves on the muslin were tight through the bicep so I added 3/4" to the width. I had to add it consistently all the way to the bottom of the sleeve because the construction requires an almost square sleeve. I wish I had left it as it was. I think the stretch in the fabric would have compensated and as it turned out, the sleeves feel a little big, especially at the cuff. Oh well. Live and learn.

As mentioned in the previous post, I omitted the bodice lining except for the front pieces. This allowed me to significantly cut down on bulk, especially at the waist seam. I used facings in the back which I finished with my serger. This allowed me to cover the top part of the zipper and finish the back of the dress nicely. I also used a centered zipper rather than an invisible zip because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to make the invisible zip work at the waist seam. A bulky seam makes the zipper hard to open and close.
I will definitely make this dress again. I'd like to try it with a contrast color for the lining. Imagine a chocolate brown linen dress with pink lapels and topstitching. Or imagine a dark skirt with a contrast color for the bodice. I think this pattern has a lot of possibilities. One thing that disappointed me about this dress was that the topstitching doesn't really show up on the dark, patterned denim. I'd like to make this again and really showcase the topstitching. I think the sleeveless dress is really cute, too, and would make a nice spring outfit.
Now that this project is done, it's on to my Halloween costume. Stay tuned for a report on my flapper dress.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mama Needs a New Dress

It seems like I've been doing quite a bit of sewing for my kids lately, and while it's a lot of fun, I've been wanting to get back to sewing for me. The first project (as previewed in a recent post) is Vogue 8187.

This is an OOP pattern that I've had in my stash for quite a while. I've taken it out and thought about making it up from time to time, but I just never quite got around to it. The Pattern from Stash contest over on Pattern Review got me thinking about it again, and then this pushed me over the edge:
This is Vogue 8532, from the most recent crop of new Vogue patterns. I'm sure you can see the similarities. This high waisted look is a good one for me. It works well on my long torso and helps to give me the illusion of longer legs. The new pattern, however, with it's wide, low neckline, is more of a "going out" dress. I don't really need one of those right now. But the older pattern is a good choice for a work dress, and I can always use one of those.

I'm making the blue version with the sleeves. I cut a 16 from the waist up and an 18 from the waist down, and made a muslin to check it out. I was thrilled to find that the fit was pretty good right out of the envelope! Even without an FBA!

I had never seen bodice pieces quite like this. The side front piece (#2) has almost an angle to the bust curve. I'm used to a much more gently curved side front. But check out that huge "dart" (the empty triangular area between the two pieces). I decided to go ahead and try it without the FBA, and it fit pretty well. The length over the bust was perfect- the underbust seam hit me at just the right spot. I could have used just a smidge more width, but I didn't want to do a princess FBA, because I didn't want to add any length to the front. I was really afraid that would throw off the lapels.

Fortunately, my fabric (which you can see underneath the pattern pieces) has quite a bit of crosswise stretch. I'm counting on that to compensate for the minimal width adjustment I could have made but didn't. Unfortunately, however, my fabric is a tad heavy. It's denim, after all. I was really worried about bulk, especially at the waist seam in back. The pattern calls for basting the bodice and lining together and handling it as one when installing the zipper. Not only is bulk a potential problem, but that just isn't a really nice way to handle a zipper.

I had originally planned to use the same fabric for the lining as for the dress. (You have to for the center front pieces because the lining will show when the lapels are flipped out.) But Fate stepped in: I didn't have enough! My first thought was to use a different fabric- a solid cotton or broadcloth- for the rest of the lining. But I was afraid that would negate the stretch factor I was counting on. So I decided to eliminate the lining- except for the center front pieces, and go with facings in the back.

Normally, I would never change a pattern to add facings. I hate them. I much prefer a lining. But in this case, I think facings are the answer. Not only do they solve the problem of not enough fabric, but they will eliminate some of the bulk at the waist seam, making the zipper much easier to install, and using a facing will make it possible to finish off the top of the zipper much more nicely.

I'm off now to work on the dress. Stay tuned for more info about some other adjustments I had to make, and of course, for a photo of the finished dress!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I'd Like to Introduce...

...The next fabric up for a shirt:

Say Hello to "Frogs in Space"! I especially like the little guy in the turtle shell spaceship! This will be the next shirt for my little man.

And for me, you might be seeing these. I say might because, as always, my plans are subject to change with no notice or reason other than my whim. From left to right we have the same highwaisted pants I made for the Mini Wardrobe Challenge. These will be made out of a heavier, dark grey mystery blend. I want to try the elastic waist method that was featured in Threads a couple of issues back (and that is used so effectively in some of my favorite RTW pants) and I will be morphing the full length legs onto the capris with the button and pocket detailing. In the middle is the Vogue high waist skirt pattern that I made last fall in black gabardine. This one will be a wool blend black and white houndstooth and, unlike the first skirt, will be lined. Then on the right, we have an OOP Vogue dress and a printed stretch denim. I have already started a muslin for this one. Stay tuned for updates!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sewing For My Man

My Little Man, that is! This is Simplicity 2836- the High School Musical shirt. Bryan wasn't too thrilled when he saw the pattern envelope. I believe his exact words were, "But I don't want a High School Musical shirt!" I assured him there would be nothing remotely HSM about his shirt when it was done. He was still suspicious, but he decided to trust me, and we ended up with a totally Bryan approved astronaut shirt.

I'd been on the lookout for a "sized" shirt pattern. I have tons of camp shirt patterns that are sized S, M, L for little boys and then jump up to mens' sizes. I needed something in the middle and this pattern fit the bill nicely. It's sized 8 through 16, and I made the 12. A word of warning about the sizing, though. I measured Bryan's chest carefully and according to that measurement, I should have made an 8. I had already decided to go up one size just for growing room, but when I cut the pieces out I decided to hold them up to him just to be on the safe side. Good thing, too, because I decided to go up to the 12. Even so, I will probably add an inch to the length when I make this again.

This is really a great little pattern with lots of design options for boys and girls. I made the short sleeved boys' version without the pockets. The fabric I used- a bright astronaut novelty print from Hancock Fabrics- was the real focal point of the project, and I didn't think a pocket was needed. I love the details on this shirt. It has a collar with a stand, separate front band pieces (no annoying facings flaping around!), and topstitching. One of the best things about it is the sleeve finish.

The raw edge is enclosed in a tuck and the tuck is pressed up so that the sleeve looks like it has a cuff. It's easy, fast, and cute. (It's also a great finish for skirt hems, too.)

All in all, I'm very pleased with this pattern and I will be making it again. I have a stack of novelty fabrics just waiting to be made into shirts for my little man. I also might try some of the girls' options. The Princess is not quite in this size range yet, but considering the size issue I had with Bryan, it might be worth my while to check out how the 8 fits her.

I'm off to cut out another one. This time I think it will be frogs...